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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Q &A: Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, speaking at Georgia State on March 25


Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns will speak at Georgia State on March 25, between production on at least six more documentaries.

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns spent years making “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” but since its debut on public television last year, he hasn’t waited to start something new — or several somethings. Already on his list of films-in-the-works: documentaries about prohibition, the Dust Bowl, the Central Park jogger case, Vietnam,  the Roosevelts (including Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor) and an update of “Baseball.”

“This is pretty insane,” he said. “I love my work too much. I feel like I have the best job in the country. It permits me to travel around and dive into the complexity without becoming like the screamers on cable.”

Complexity and deep dives last, he said. Attendance at National Parks jumped after the films broadcast. People still come up to him almost daily to discuss his 1990 film about the Civil War and another film about World …

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Phoenix Flies showcases hidden historic sites in Atlanta


Hidden inside Grady Memorial Hospital is a historic chapel designed by local architect Philip Shutze. It was recently refurbished and will be on display during the Atlanta Preservation Center's Phoenix Flies event. AJC file photo

Starting this weekend, there are dozens of events that teach something new about Atlanta. Usually, you’d have to pay for them, but for these few weeks, they’re free. In some cases, there wouldn’t be a usually because you’d never get this kind of access to them.

It’s the Atlanta Preservation Center’s seventh Phoenix Flies; it coordinates the city’s historic sites and schedules free tours and events there from March 6-22. It’s two weeks to refute the idea that there’s no history left in Atlanta, to point out that it’s not too late — those sites and stories don’t have to be forgotten.

“Many people don’t think of Atlanta as having historic sites,” explains Rebecca Roberts, the Preservation Center’s director of programs. “They may know about the History …

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Q&A with Jonathan Rej of Atlanta’s historic Plaza Theatre


Gayle and Jonathan Rej, on stage during the 70th anniversary celebration for the Plaza Theatre. The day-in, day-out businesses is tougher to run. AJC file photo

The Plaza Theatre on Ponce de Leon Avenue turned 70 this year, and it was a big time — all history and celebration.

But a Q&A with Plaza Theatre co-owner Jonathan Rej that ran in the AJC this week points out that the day-to-day is pretty tough: no janitorial services, no time, no advertising for lesser-known films, no money to keep it going long-term. As he said in the article, “We need more money to stay open. As of now, it’s really not going to last — there is no way to make it long term like this.”


But here’s the plan, to match the theater’s relatively new non-profit status:

Now we offer memberships to patrons so they can support us. We are trying to get grants. We are trying to get sponsors. We have gotten a few groups that will support a particular movie. It’s a tax write-off for them.

We are starting a …

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History of Titian masterpieces coming to High Museum


Titian's "Diana and Callisto" shows the story of a nymph's expulsion from Diana's court. The painting will make its U.S. debut at the High in October.

I posted last week about Titian masterpieces that will make their United States at the High Museum of Art in October, and one reader asked for the stories of what’s happening in the paintings, “Diana and Actaeon” and “Diana and Callisto.”

Well, well, here’s a great multimedia history of the paintings and how they came to the National Galleries of Scotland.

If you’re just looking for the key details, know that in 1550, Titian made a deal with the crown prince Philip of Spain to create paintings based on “the loves of the Olympian gods and the consequences for any mortals who encountered them.” Among the six paintings, “Diana and Actaeon” and “Diana and Callisto” were the last two.

So explains the tour:

The literary source for both the Bridgewater paintings is the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a poem in fifteen books which …

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Salman Rushdie archive, lectures at Emory University

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Salman Rushdie and Emory English professor Deepika Bahri in Rushdie archive exhibition, "A World Mapped by Stories, " now on display at Emory's library. AJC/Elissa Eubanks

So what does a Knight Bachelor, Booker Prize-winning author, fatwa subject and ex-husband of Padma Lakshmi put on display when a university comes looking for the actual words and objects that have made up his life?

Now that Salman Rushdie’s archive is on display at Emory University, we can see: e-mails and letters from the past 30 years, old computers, calendars and journals, family records, photos and doodles.

The whole thing was curated by Emory Associate Professor of English and Director of Asian Studies Deepika Bahri, but I rather like Rushdie comment, made during a media tour attended by AJCer Katie Leslie:

“From the moment I agreed to do this, I knew it was going to be sort of embarrassing,” Rushdie said during a media tour of the exhibit. “The biggest issue for me in the whole discussion with Emory …

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Dr. Seuss exhibit to open at Breman Jewish Museum

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"Horton Hears a Who!" is part of the Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum's Dr. Seuss exhibition opening Feb. 14. AJC photos by Jamie Gumbrecht

Dr. Seuss’ style is unmistakable, and Ted Geisel is leaving a mark all over Atlanta the next few weeks.


Kids can relax and read among turtles in the Seuss exhibition.

The Cobb Symphony and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will both perform pieces inspired by the famous author-illustrator’s work in the next few weeks.

The great highlight, though, will be  new exhibition opening this weekend at The Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum shows his political cartooning, then dives into his famous artwork for children.

It has a tone far lighter than the heart-shaking Holocaust exhibition across the hall, but kids and adults can both get a lot out of it. The political cartoons are mostly signed “Tedd,” and show a developing style made famous by Horton and the Grinch.

The second half takes kids (and their nostalgic parents, too) …

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History Center ‘Resistance’ slideshow a glimpse of portraits


"Let Resistance Be Your Motto" curator calls this 1963 photo "sidewalk theater." Malcolm X "picked a central place to stand, knowing there are people in and out of this store. He found a place to tell this story." This photo is up at the Atlanta HIstory Center through April. National Portrait Gallery.

Please, if you are able, visit the Atlanta History Center sometime before April and spend time in its recently opened exhibition, “Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits.”

It’s the first of four exhibitions in the Center’s “Civil War to Civil Rights” series and contains nearly 70 images from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

If you can’t make it there yet — Here till April! Plenty of time! — here’s a taste of what you’ll see and how it wound up there: a slideshow of some “Resistance images” with commentary by curator Deborah Willis, a professor of photography at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Here are more Black History Month …

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PHOTOS: Fernbank’s new ‘Nature Unleashed’ exhibition

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The 200 mile per hour winds of an EF5 tornado in Greensburn, Kan. in 2007 bent this stop sign while debris stripped some of its plate. The sign and other artifacts from the tornado are on display at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. AJC photos by Jamie Gumbrecht

Flashback to eighth grade earth science: Mrs. Kuntz tries to explain Pangaea, tectonic plates, earthquakes, volcanoes. This involves a lot of illustrations, movie clips, glossaries of terms we’ve never seen before, assurances that nobody in Michigan is likely to die from these things — not today, anyway — and the class singing the chorus of “Breaking Up is Hard To Do.” I always imagined we were imitating Little Eva, but I know now that it’s more Neil Sedaka’s thing. I’ll credit both for the education.


Fernbank's Cindy Sheehy stomps the ground to show how a (unusually sensitive) seismometer measures ground movement.

Still, that’s it. Every few years since then, I’ve written about homes ravaged by hurricanes, cities …

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Great Atlanta Black History Month events in February


Here's a moment in Alvin Ailey Dance Company's "Revelations." The company returns to Atlanta this month to celebrate Judith Jamison’s 20th year as artistic director. AJC/Hyosub Shin

February in Atlanta gives us an incredible opportunity to learn and celebrate Black History Month through art and community, no matter your age or background.

Here’s an incredibly helpful (and thorough) list of Atlanta Black History Month events including: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performances and gospel choirs at the Fox Theatre; dance and jazz at the Rialto Center for the Arts and Emory University’s Schwartz Center for Performing Arts; the Margaret Mitchell House’s Big Read events; a portrait exhibition at the Atlanta History Center; a photo exhibition at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site; exhibitions at Hammonds House and Spelman College; children and family activities at Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta and Callanwolde Fine Arts Center; “Our Town” at True …

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Found Footage Festival comes to Plaza Theatre Feb. 4

Sometime in 1987, two of my friends and I set up a silver video camera about the size of a microwave, donned some spandex-and-feather dance recital costumes (one of which resembled a duck), hit play on the Casio boom box and created a series of music videos for George Michael and Madonna songs in the carpeted end of their basement. Because it was 1987, we called it “Dance Mania,” and because were were 5, we thought it was greatest thing ever.

If this video turned up now, I’d probably be able to laugh for a second before I had to shut my eyes. Everybody born pre-YouTube has those videos, but likely assumes they’ll never see them. I have to believe that kids, teens and adults of 2010 are savvier, or at least realize that to  hit “record” is to enter a contract with millions of potential viewers.

That’s why the Found Footage Festival, a one-night event coming to the Plaza Theatre on Feb. 4, is really a museum to another time — when we recorded family vacations, community …

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